Diary - September 1984: Rosc, Michael 0 Muircheartaigh and Tory priest, Fr Diarmuid O Peicin

  • 31 August 1984
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Rosc Around The Clock

FIRST THERE WAS THE President of Ireland, Patrick J. Hillery. He was being led around Rosc by its chairman Patrick J. Murphy. They came to a large number of sods of turf which some arrtist had put there as a work of art. Both Patrick J's looked down at it, neither spoke and then Patrick J., Murphy looked at Patrick J. Hillery and said "Turf." Just one word. "Turf." Patrick J. Hillery continued to look at the turf but he didn't say anything.

Patrick J. Murphy didn't 'speak at the opening of Rose, nor did its founder Michael Scott, nor did Rose President Charles J. Haughey. This was at the insistence of Patrick J. Hillery who made it clear that he would open Rose only if there were no other speakers. The President of Ireland is getting uppity.

Then there was Charles J. Haughey. He wasn't there. Some said it was because he wouldn't be let speak, but others said it was because the following Sunday he was to open the Dingle Regatta. First things first with the leader of the opposition.

Then there was drink. A bar the length of Croke Park serving Guinness, Harp and Smith wicks in pints or glasses to anyone who wanted it, as long as they were invited, of course.

Then there were all the paintings, sods of turf and odd bits of sculpture upstairs and a man to tell you that you couldn't take your drink with you if you wanted to leave the bar and go to look at them. Thus many never left the bar at all. Many stood around looking at each other instead of the paintings and going up to the bar as often as possible to get more drink. Many never got beyond the man who was put there to keep drink and paintings apart.

Then there were the ordiinary people of Dublin who stood outside.

By ten o'clock they had gone back home but the drinkers, roscers and art lovers were still looking at each other. Everyone was getting very cheerful and some were becoming loud. This reporter actually shook hands with Henry Mountcharles, a thing he would not normally do.

Then there was Michael Scott, Mr Rose, who looked more and more like Aristotle Onassis, as he moved about from person to person. He was having a big party out in his house on the Forty Foot beside Joyce's Tower and there was a bus outside to transport all those who were going to this party. All aboard for Michael Scott's house. This reporter was not invited to Michael Scott's party and all attempts to get invited failed. Reports on it varied. Some said it was very dull inndeed, some nice food salmon - a bit of gargle, but not much fun. The bus was there to take people home, but only three people availed of its services. One source who was at the party claimed it went on all night and the roscers ended up rolling around in the Forty Foot. Readers will just have to make up their own minds.

Half the guests had gone.

Sir Michael Scott's bus was waiting outside. Suddenly the security people dragged two young men across the floor back towards the bar. Everyybody stopped to watch; it was unclear for some time what the two young men had done to merit such rough treatment. When they were pulled over to the bar their crime was made known. Both of them, it seemed, had a bottle of Harp in each pocket:

The bottles were taken out of their pockets and they were flung out. Stealing coals from Newcastle.

Then there was guess who.

Yes, right first time, who else. Ladies and gentlemen, I preesent Ted Nealon who the following night hosted a state reception for Rose in Dublin Castle. A state reception is where you walk up the stairs, queue, meet the Minister or the Taoiseach or whoever is giving the reception, shake his 'or her hand and then the .hand of their spouse and then go into a room and drink your brains out. Gin, whisky, vodka, beer, orange juice. Some people say this is a' complete waste of money in a time of recession, but all the drink is duty free. The governnment, being in charge, don't have to pay tax on drink.

So anyway there stood Ted Nealon greeting everyone and his wife beside him who greeted everyone as well. Then you could turn left into a long room full of drink. Women with trays full of drink, would you like a gin and tonic sir, tables with men behind them serving drink, are you all right sir. And it was only eight o'clock.

The former journalist John Mulcahy. was there with his wife. They were all dressed up, as they had been the preevious night. They looked as though they had been invited. In fact, they hadn't been invited, they had merely found out the state reception was on, phoned up the Taoiseach's office and made a fuss of themselves and were given tickets just to keep them quiet. To look at them you would never have guessed all this.

There were a lot of painttings on the walls. F or over an hour this reporter thought they were Ron Tallon's selecction of Irish artists for Rose but he was disabused of this view and told they were porrtraits from an age gone by of old judges and dead digniitaries.

Then there was the New Ireland Forum. All its works and porn ps lay around the corner: chairs, microphones, tables, the Fianna Fail side, the Fine Gael side, where the Labour members sat, the cham the bishops used still there and just a small rope separating it from all the drinkers. Many felt the urge, at all stages of the night, to go in and make a long speech to the Forum and have it printed up in one of those little white booklets. This reporter felt a terrible urge to do his Desmond Fennell imitation.

At first it looked as though there was only one room full of drink but after a while it became clear that there were two such rooms and that the other one was full of drink as well. Artists, poliiticians, groupies, art lovers and John Mulcahy and his "'"i!e mingled. One artist who has lived outside the country Tor many years asked this reporter. if there were any national handlers present. Inndeed there were.

By ten thirty the drink was off the tables and the rowds were going home. Just S we were about to make our way down the stairs someone nudged us in a different direction and we found ourselves, after a long walk down the corridor, in a small room with a thick carpet and a table full of drink. Dick Burke was there. The man making sure evertbody was happy was called Padraig O hUiginn; by day he is the Secretary of the Department of the Taoiseach. The Mullcahys seemed to have made their way into this room as well in the company of one of their children. Gin flowed. Ted Nealon was here too as well as the general secretary of the Labour Party.

At about half one in the morning we all got put out. Gin which once flowed free was now locked up in bottles. The yard of Dublin Castle was almost deserted. Rose was all over. We would have to wait for another four years for another such enriching encounter with art.


THE GOLDEN VOICE OF Michael 0 Muircheartaigh could be heard a mile away. No, he said in Irish, he wouldn't be able to go to the launch on Saturday, he would be down in Thurles. Michael 0 Muircheartaigh was standing in the office of Bibi Baskin, the editor of Anois, the new Irish language' newspaper which will appear among us on Sunday next, all 48 pages of it with a 20-page pull-out, on the GAA with loads of colour pictures. o Muircheartaigh is to be the sports editor of the paper, which will cost 40p.

Bibi Baskin was born in Donegal and studied Irish for seven years at Trinity; she has worked as a feature writer for both The Farmers' Journal and The Sunday Tribune. Anois replaces Inniu which published its last issue last week.

Anois is being published by Gael Linn and is thus going to make an effort to break even as well as innfluence people. It has been given a government grant to start off and will need to make sixty per cent of its costs from sales and adverrtising. The advertising manaager is Mary Colley, widow of George Colley, and she has already brought in half of what her targets are for the rest of the year. Proinsias Mac Aonghusa will be writing a column for the paper; there will be a page for school- children learning Irish; two pages will be devoted to young people; and just in case the Gaeltacht feels left out there will be a page of photoographs from there.

The paper will be tabloid, any woman appearing on page three will have clothes on but the style, according to Bibi Baskin, will be gonta , which means brisk or clipped. The office is housed in 27 Merrion Square beside the Gael Linn offices, Gael Linn bought both buildings in 1977 for a sum less than the current annual rent of a semi-state body just down the road.

Tory Exile

FR DIARMUID 0 PEIClN, the Jesuit priest who was formerly curate on Tory Issland, has written to Bishop Seamus Hegarty of Raphoe alleging that he is owed £10,000 by the diocese due to the fact that he was not paid any salary for most of his stay on Tory. As yet he has received no reply.

Fr 0 Peicin was moved from the island in July. Over the past four years he has made an enormous effort to keep the island alive, despite official policy that the island should be cleared. He was responsible for the building of a road across the island, for providing a bus to take the children to school, as well as a ferry, running water and a knitwear factory.

Fr 0 Peicin's lobbying skills developed considerably over his years in Tory and he made as many enemies as he did friends. The islanders, who are unhappy about the move, feel that no minister for the Gaeltacht since Tom O'Donnell has done anything for them. Charles Haughey, however, has visited the island on a number of occasions and has given it his public support. Mr Haughey supported Fr 0 Peicin in his campaign to reemain curate of Tory Island, much to the annoyance of Bishop Hegarty, it is underrstood.

In many ways, however, Fr 0 Peicin is more useful to the islanders on the mainland than he would be on the island. In Dublin he is able to 10 b b y officials, politicians and journalists and has easy access to Strasbourg, the European centre for lobbying. He can also visit Tory whenever he likes - at least for the mooment, he has not yet been banned - and was there for the recent festival. He met the new curate, it is reported and they greeted one another very cordially. The new curate was formerly the bishop's secretary.

Fr 0 Peicin's persistence is matched only by the persisstence of Mrs Winnie Ewing MEP for Scotland who has championed the cause of the Scottish islanders in Strassbourg. Mrs Ewing has joined Fr 0 Peicin in his battle to save Tory. Fr 0 Peicin has decided, however, to broaden 'the campaign and over the past few weeks has been visiiting Clare Island, the Aran Islands and Rathlin Island to try and start a united island' movement. One of those who has consistently supported the rights of the Rathlin Islanders is Ian Paisley. Fr 0 Peicin and Dr Paisley have much in common: a certain ignorance, persistence and a grievance against bishops.

A pity then that Dr Paissley will not be in Clare Island over the weekend of Septemmber 8 and 9 when a conference will be held of islanders who want to follow the example of their Scortish counterrparts and win a charter of rights.